If you’ve ever suffered the loss of a beloved pet you know the acute, all-consuming pain that accompanies that loss.
Allow yourself to grieve. Express your grief, cry, scream at the world, whatever it takes. Find people in like circumstances to share your grief with.
There are many pet loss groups available either online or ones you can attend in person. Talking will help you come to terms with the grief especially if you have feelings of guilt or anger. Sharing with others who truly understand allows you to remember all the special things about your pet and helps through depression. Write a journal, poem, essay, short story, putting your grief to pen and paper sometimes helps.
If you must euthanize your pet, while not an easy decision, it is the ultimate act of love. If you choose to be present at this time, try to remain calm so as not to upset your pet. My vet was kind enough to come to my home and I held my dear Timo as Dr. Doni administered the injection. The last words she heard were how much I love her. You can choose to bring your pet to your vet’s office. Most vets will allow you to remain with your pet during the procedure if you are comfortable doing so. Discuss your wishes and the options with your vet. The choice is yours. Just keep in mind, there are no wrong choices, only what’s best for you and your pet.
You can find options of what to do after your pet dies in our article Memorials for Pets.
Children need to mourn the loss of a pet as well. Your religious beliefs, your own feelings, your childrens’ ages, will all guide you in what to tell them. Let them know that your pet is now pain-free and happy. I personally think it’s best to be honest and allow your children to see your grief and express their own.
If you have other pets in your household, they may grieve also. In my particular case, my German Shepherd, Quanah became very quiet after her pal Timo died. She was unusually clingy, following me wherever I would go and sitting beside me, not letting me out of her sight. She also did not eat well. The first time Dr. Doni visited after Timo was euthanized, Quanah, who adored him, actually hid. So much for people who say pets don’t understand or have emotions. I became very concerned about her and a couple of months later decided she needed a playmate. I chose to rescue a shelter dog which turned out to be a wise decision for Quanah (and Murphy, her new pal). Murphy helped Quanah over her depression and they have become great pals.
When or if to get another pet is an individual decision. You will know when the time and circumstances are right. Just keep in mind that the new pet is different, not a replacement. Your new pet will have its own personality and other endearing qualities. I would advise you to get another pet only when you are ready to take another animal into your heart. And until you are ready or can’t adopt another pet, try volunteering at your local shelter. They can always use the help and perhaps caring for an animal in need will ease your grief.